The latest technology for railway safety in India

On 20 July, the Ministry of Railways released a press statement that outlined the latest technology being used in the country’s railway systems. 

As a part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India initiative, a number of new state-of-the-art technologies have been implemented to ensure railway safety. According to official figures, the railways have maintained the best safety record in 2017-2018 fiscal in over five decades.  

The press release noted that an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System called the Auxiliary Warning System (AWS) is currently operational on 364 RKMs (Route-kilometres) in the Mumbai suburban section of Central Railway (240 RKMs) and Western Railway (124 RKMs). The system will provide technical aid to Loco Pilots to avoid Signal Passing at Danger (SPAD) and over-speeding. Presently, three different Automatic Train Protection (ATP) Systems are used in Indian Railway systems including an ATM system indigenously developed called Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), an Automatic Train Protection (ATP) System based on proven European Train Control System (ETCS-L1) Technology, and the aforementioned Auxiliary Warning System (AWS).

Indian Railway systems have also introduced complete Track Circuiting, which is a device that is used to detect the absence of a train on railway tracks. This has been implemented in around 5,989 stations in the country. The Ministry has also implemented Axle box level accelerometers that can monitor track defects.

A number of Axle Counter for Automatic clearance of Block Section (BPAC) have been installed in train 5,117 block sections to reduce the amount of manual intervention needed before granting line clear. Integrated Track Monitoring Systems (ITMS) that are capable of recording identifiable track component defects and Self-Propellered Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) Cars for detection of internal flaws in rails have both been introduced into the railway system.

According to the press release, over the last two years, the Ministry has witnessed several improvements in techniques/technologies to ensure the safety and security of passengers.

Among the new technologies is an ATP System being indigenously developed called the Train Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) is under trial on 250 RKMs of South Central Railway as a pilot project.

The press statement said that Electrical/Electronic Interlocking Systems with the centralised operation of points and signals are being provided to reduce human error and to replace out-of-date mechanical systems. Crew Voice/Video recording systems are being installed to ensure the effective and tamper-proof video and voice recordings of locomotive cabs for post-failure event analysis. 

The Online Monitoring of Rolling Stock (OMRS) system monitors defective bearing, wheel flats and defect reports are generated in real-time and corrective action is taken. For development in the quality of welding, the Ministry has introduced mechanised preheating systems, three-piece pre-fabricated moulds, Auto Tapping Thimble and single shot crucible.

The release also noted that new specifications for Ultrasonic Flaw Detection (USFD) testing machines have been issued by the Research Design & Standards Organisation (RDSO) that includes features for location tagging, time stamping of recordings and improved scan (B-scan) capability.

Thick Web Switches & Weldable CMS Crossings have been introduced that will help improve track maintenance and safety.

Work for daily track health monitoring through deploying Axle Box Level Accelerometers on one/two bogies of Rajdhani type trains on Group–A route has been sanctioned.  This will ensure the regular monitoring of track defects on routes that have been covered. Advanced Integrated Track Monitoring System (ITMS) and Self Propelled Ultrasonic Rail Testing (SPURT) cars have been developed.

Indian Railway systems have already developed the safety aspects of coaches and wagons by introducing the Modified Centre Buffer couplers and Bogie Mounted Air Brake System (BMBS).  The Ministry is working to improve suspension designs and provide automatic fire and smoke detection systems in coaches that will eventually lead to better safety standards.

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